I watched the movie Urban Cowboy (1980, John Travolta and Debra Winger) free on demand recently. Okay, fine, I’m old enough to have seen it when it first came out. But it had been so long I remembered almost nothing of the film, other than some pretty fine country music. If you like that kind of thing. Which I do, from time to time.
I can’t say I recommend the movie. Domestic violence, other kinds of violence, cheating on your partner, and I can’t – for the life of me – figure out why anyone would want to ride a bull. I’ll ask my friend, Dan, as he used to be a bull rider.
Yet one line from the movie struck me. Bud (Travolta) and Sissy (Winger) were watching a rodeo with convicts let out from prison riding the bulls. Bud said that convicts make the best bull riders. Sissy wondered why. Bud said it’s because they’re not afraid of being hurt. That they’re just going back to prison to convalesce anyway.
This is how it is with many of our dreams in life and sharing our voices. We don’t – because we’re afraid of being hurt.
Dan Meyer and I went to school together in South Dakota from kindergarten through high school graduation and have remained in touch ever since. While he no longer rides bulls, Dan is still very involved with the rodeo where he now lives in Idaho. In fact, he’ll soon be traveling to the National High School Rodeo Finals in Rock Springs, WY.
Why do people ride bulls? Dan says, “It’s the adrenaline rush. It’s like why people jump out of airplanes. Sheer adrenaline. And then you challenge yourself with the next one. Every bull is different; every bull is going to move differently than the last one. It all boils down to how you can compensate for each movement.”
I asked Dan just one other question: “How does it feel when you’re done with a bull ride?”
He responded, “An over-the-top satisfaction, knowing you went one on one with something bigger and better than you.”
Maybe public vocal performance and bull-riding aren’t that different after all.
When the spotlights are on the stage and you’re waiting for your cue, adrenaline courses through your body. Every song, every speech…each audience…is different. You’re going one on one with your fears. And, when it’s over, and you know you’ve done it (regardless of whether you “won” or “lost”, performed “better” or “worse”) the satisfaction is real and ready. You have more experience under your saddle cinch and are ready for the next challenge.
What if we were to act like a convict let out of prison for one day – and ride our own personal bull, whatever that might mean, without fear of being hurt?
Interesting to think about, huh?
Please spread the love and pass this along to a friend!
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